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Valentina Magaletti residency at Cafe Oto

Valentina Magaletti residency

(Cafe Oto, 12-14 December 2022; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

Marlene Ribeiro, at her electronics console, performing the opening set of Valentina Magaletti’s Cafe Oto residency. Drawing © Geoffrey Winston. All rights reserved

The first and final nights I attended of percussionist Valentina Magaletti’s landmark three-night residency at Cafe Oto, which she also curated, opened with strong solo sets from Marlene Ribeiro and Laila Sakini, respectively, captivating the listener with their skilfully layered approaches.

Ribeiro interspersed short spells of clarinet and vocals with sampled riffs ranging from acoustic guitar to clattering drum and gamelan mixed with edgy electronic interference, forming the backbone for a sequence of linked chapters. Sakini, based around piano and subtle electronics brought in gentle recorder and aquatic sounds, nonetheless cut through with a hint of the industrial.

Drummer Valentina Magaletti, firing on all cylinders on night 1 of her Cafe Oto residency. Drawing © Geoffrey Winston. All rights reserved

Both evenings ended with two extraordinary powerful, and very different, group sets with Magaletti as the lynchpin in each. Following the power trio of Better Corners, the first was a brilliant improvised set from a Magaletti quartet with Cathy Lucas (violin), Marta Salogni (electronics, tape machines) and Miriam Adefris (harp) which began with Magaletti tinkling tiny bells and sudden thwacks on the bass drum to draw in acoustic tensions as sounds were circulated between the musicians, each adding a special flavour to their intense and sensitive collaboration. Violin drones and sharp arco from Lucas, delicate finger and chord work from Adefris on a beautiful contemporary harp, pirouetting looped samples from Salogni, a shot of glockenspiel from Magaletti and a snappy jazzy figure with brushes which gave way to mallet mayhem in the intuitive call-and-response musical conversation within the quartet.

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Laila Sakini at Cafe Oto’s Yamaha C3 grand on night 3 of the Magaletti residency. Drawing © Geoffrey Winston. All rights reserved

The final set of the series from trio Holy TongueMagaletti, Al Wooton (electronics and piano) and bassist Susumu Mukai (aka Zongamin), joined by saxophonist Ben Vince – summoned up the spirit of dub reggae with a vengence, and some, taking it in their own direction, live and direct, no stone unturned. Magaletti, on marvellous precision form, added razor-sharp accents, combining with Mukai to drive the pounding rhythms while Wooton processed echoes in true dub style in addition to his wild electronics. Ben Vince, gritty as ever, added an essential rawness. We could have been in King Tubby’s studio, twenty-first century style!

Holy Tongue’s high-charge dub power closing proceedings at the Magaletti Cafe Oto residency (left to right: Wooton, Vince, Magaletti, Mukai). Drawing © Geoffrey Winston. All rights reserved

LINK: Valentina Magaletti’s website

Geoff Winston’s coverage of gigs at Cafe Oto

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